TZL 1344 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S M a y 1 1 , 2 0 2 0 , I s s u e 1 3 4 4 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

Stock divestment

Addressing questions about the impact of COVID-19 through the lens of the Great Recession. Look ahead by looking back

T he financial advisory team at Zweig Group has been gently pelted with questions from across the AEC industry over the last months regarding how the COVID-19 crisis compares and contrasts to the Great Recession. Even during the previous heights of AEC profitability and demand for services leading up to the last recession, the lowest-ranked reason for acquiring a firm – consistently – was adding staff. During those simpler times, we didn’t suffer the chronic shortage of talent in the AEC industry like we are facing today, or, at least, it wasn’t a primary driver for inorganic growth. In fact, the talent shortage didn’t start to become reflected in our data until 2016 as a driver of acquisitions. Fast forward, and the equation has completely shifted. The demographics entering COVID-19 will not have changed at its conclusion: 80 percent of AEC firm ownership is held by individuals age 50 or older, and the average age of a land surveyor is 60. There are several statistics about fewer graduates exiting A/E college programs that point to a continued limit of supply of talent over at least the medium term based on evolving visa limitations, curriculum challenges, and other topics best addressed at the higher education level. Without drawing a conclusion, suffice it to say that there is reason to be concerned that we may see another gap in our businesses at the entry level. While understandable that entry-level talent today isn’t a top concern, leaders are making decisions that will inevitably result in perpetuating the very same hole that – just a mere two months ago – certain CEOs I know by name swore never, ever to repeat: and in 10 years, please don’t be surprised that deciding not to hire out of the Class of 2020 causes a missing gap of 10-year experienced project managers. There ought to be other conversations around the scarcity of staff related to career development and training, as well as technology investments, but those are for another article. Once we see an increase in demand for services or at least a semblance of stability, the question that will be in front of us is how much talent will remain in our firms, and where does that place staff in the ranking of reasons to purchase a company? This gap at the middle tier of companies across the nation will likely influence ownership transition options in the next 10 years, or potentially – here’s my optimism – we may finally see AEC firms warming up to the concept of transitioning small percentages of ownership to people in their 40s. It seems – to me – that if you are deemed old enough to run for president of the United States, you might just have what it takes to buy 2 percent of your 30-person engineering firm.

In Zweig Group’s 2020 Principals, Partners & Owners Report of AEC Firms , we asked principals how they planned to sell their ownership interests, when the time came to do so. Would they sell it internally, externally, or for the highest price? When analyzing this question by firm growth rate, we noticed that principals in growing firms were more likely to sell their stock internally than stable or declining firms. The chart above shows the percent of respondents who plan to sell ownership internally. This seems to indicate that a healthy internal ownership transition program can promote growth, which in turn enhances overall firm value.

Jamie Claire Kiser

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F I R M I N D E X Daft-McCune-Walker, Inc......................12 LACO Associates..................................12 Miyamoto International..........................10 Pfluger Architects....................................2 Shield Environmental Associates.............6 Ware Malcomb......................................10 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz MARK ZWEIG: Don’t know what to do? Page 3 xz Approachable leadership: Mark Sweet Page 6 xz KIT MIYAMOTO: Leadership in action Page 9 xz LINDSAY YOUNG: What you can do with extra time Page 11




ON THE MOVE PFLUGER HIRES TERRY HOYLE TO LAUNCH DALLAS- FORT WORTH OFFICE Terry Hoyle, AIA, LEED AP, has joined Pfluger Architects as director of the firm’s new Dallas-Fort Worth office. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, Hoyle has been an architect serving the Dallas-Fort Worth educational communities since 1990. His experience and passion for educational architecture make him a perfect fit for Pfluger, a firm that has worked with K-12 and higher education clients since 1973. “Terry has led teams that have created exceptional designs and has established himself as an innovator and creative problem solver,” said Brad Pfluger, president, and CEO of Pfluger Architects. “He is already proving to be a valued team member.” Pfluger’s focus on sustainable design principles and practices dovetails with Hoyle’s background. He led the team that designed the

first net-zero elementary school in Texas. He has also published articles on sustainable design and green building practices. Hoyle has a passion for outdoor pursuits- particularly hiking, skiing, and white-water rafting. He and his wife, a residential contractor, live in Dallas and have one son, a sophomore at SMU. Founded in Austin, Texas in 1973, Pfluger Architects plans and designs educational facilities that engage and inspire. With offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Pfluger has completed more than 450 projects totaling more than $1 billion in the last five years alone. Pfluger is committed to the responsible use and management of energy and natural resources by recommending locally sourced products and efficient building systems that meet client needs and budgets.

Driving Financial Results Webinar


Solid financial management is crucial to the success of any company, and firms in the AEC industry are no exception. This short course provides an overview of business financial management – specifically tailored to our industry – to help firm leaders make informed decisions that drive results.


Another contrast between the M&A world of late 2019 and the recession is the negotiation parameters around purchase price. Using 10 years of median data from 2005 to 2015, the average purchase price that firms expected to receive for their firm was exactly 70 percent of net service revenue; compared to an actual price paid average of 53 percent over the same 10-year period. Revenue has fallen so far to the wayside in negotiations over the last 12 months that I almost pine for a conversation about free cash flow, working capital, and – how could I forget – liquidity ratios (the “three sisters” of underwriting). In 2005, our Valuation Survey provided a median value of 4.49x EBITDA when the valuation was conducted for the express purpose of a potential or actual sale or merger; the upper quartile was 5.70x. In 2011, the median was 4.24x and the upper quartile was 5.2x. The record backlog and confidence in outlook meant that we were hearing ranges as high as 7.5x for middle market AEC transactions until very recently. I think that the focus on EBITDA may give way somewhat to a return to top-line revenue based net service revenue as a “governor” of the purchase price and we could see a return down to a limit of approximately 100 percent of net service revenue, which would align with our data trends and historic market highs and lows. The stability of future revenue and ability to draw upon the existing client base will become an opportunity as profit decreases and as backlog is seen as more erratic, meaning the opportunity is for a buyer to “out manage” the sell-side owners by adding processes and efficiencies. Last year, we saw plenty of firms with 30 percent profit margins on the market – a business model based on acquiring firms achieving additional symbioses with that kind of profit margin wasn’t logical, so the goal of acquirers was to preserve the highly profitable operations by supporting revenue growth. The conversation has started to shift again, and I think during this interim period, at least, before the bounce-back that many folks much smarter than I am predict, we might hear net service revenue boundary conditions dusted off and put back into offers in the near term. This article does not purport to due justice to the myriad ways COVID-19 has changed the way we negotiate. The disruption extends from the courting process to the cost of capital to integration planning to kids shrieking in the background during an intense negotiation session. It’s a reality both surreal and fundamentally human. This is an odd time to take on the risk of the market by buying or selling – tell me what you’re seeing! JAMIE CLAIRE KISER is managing principal and director of advisory services at Zweig Group. Contact her at


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Don’t know what to do?

For many A/E firms, it is going to take a lot of tough decisions, hard work, mental intensity, and help from everyone in the firm to get through this situation intact.

O ne thing is for sure. This pandemic is not affecting every A/E firm the same way. There are two ends to the continuum of how impacted individual firms’ financial situations are.

Some firms – for example, those that do largely infrastructure projects for government clients – are seeing little to no reduction in their backlogs and workload. They are just chugging along pretty much as normal except for the fact that most everyone is working from home with perhaps some minor decline in worker productivity and profitability. But they have no immediate threat to their survival. Other companies are devastated. Those that do residential interiors in New York City or design new chain restaurants or hotels have seen workloads evaporate. They are wondering how they can quickly change direction to get sufficient work to survive – even though that could be in a new form with much less work and staff.

management teams’ concerns are is wholly different. I don’t worry too much about the fate of the first group of companies. They are going to make it through this thing and if they run into financial problems it won’t be in the near-term future. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that their success is assured. It isn’t. Longer-term, their city, county, state, and federal government clients could have budget problems and things could still get ugly for them, but the threat to their survival is not urgent now. These companies are dealing with issues of revising their business plans and protecting the health and well-being of their people, some of whom are probably going to be back in the office soon. Reconfiguring their office

Mark Zweig

The situations of each of these two types of companies is vastly different and their

See MARK ZWEIG, page 4



MARK ZWEIG, from page 3

4) Honestly assess your deficiencies in the new market conditions you are operating in and if one or more key people are needed to address those, start recruiting those people immediately. 5) Honestly assess the prospects for work in each of your key sectors and, if diversification to new markets is going to be essential, start recruiting those key people who have an ability to bring work with them to you immediately. “Do anything and everything you can to protect your workers who have to leave their homes. Physical distancing inside the office, staggered office hours, deep cleaning, and PPE should all be considered.” 6) Work on your communication with all of your employees collectively as well as each of the individuals who you deem need special attention now, and keep everyone informed of your plans and activities. 7) Implement any necessary pay cuts with the principals taking the biggest hit first. Commit to paying these cuts back that any or all of your people take through a new short-term bonus plan tied to achieving certain positive cash flow goals. 8) Talk to your lenders and keep them informed of the reality of your situation. Get their authorization in writing to stall off any loan payments you can and release you from any covenants tied to your accounts receivable line of credit even if only temporarily. 9) Pay minimum amounts on your credit card bills and stall off all payments that you can to the last minute before incurring late charges or ruining a critical business relationship you depend on. 10) Cut all unnecessary travel immediately and try to do necessary travel by car. Internal meetings or office visits would be the first travel to go. 11) Do anything and everything you can to protect your workers who have to leave their homes. Physical distancing inside the office, staggered office hours, deep cleaning, and PPE should all be considered. 12) If additional capital is needed, look to the principals to bring it to the company one way or another, even if that means dipping into their retirement funds or getting home equity. This situation will clearly show who believes in the firm and is committed to its survival and success and who isn’t. None of these things is revolutionary at all. Short of a vaccination or widely available effective treatment for COVID-19, there won’t be a magic bullet here. For many A/E firms, it is going to take a lot of tough decisions, hard work, mental intensity, and help from everyone in the firm to get through this situation intact. You can do it if you really want to, though! MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

spaces to support physical distancing, deciding who can continue to work from home, cleaning procedures, and PPE for their people will be their immediate concerns. It’s the second group of companies – those that may have seen 80 percent or more of their work evaporate overnight – that I worry most about. Some of them are owned and managed by people who simply don’t know what to do next. No one knows exactly what the future holds, yet there are still some steps that can be logically taken that will help these companies survive to another (and hopefully better) time in the future. This scenario or some variation of it could be as many as 60 percent or even 70 percent of the companies that make up our industry. And when I say “industry,” I am strictly speaking to the professional services side. I won’t address construction contractors and subcontractors because their businesses are much different. If this last scenario sounds more like what you are going through, here are some sensible things you can do that could be essential to your survival and future prosperity. Some of them are going to affect some of your people significantly and will be tough to implement, so I don’t want to sound insensitive to that. Yet sometimes tough decisions have to be made to keep the life boat from sinking and drowning everyone on it. 1) Eliminate all non-essential costs. This means anything and everything is up for grabs. Get your CFO involved. Go right down the list of line items on your P&L reports and cut everything you can. Business travel, outside auditors, sports tickets, trade show participation, company cars, etc. Cut it all. You can bring anything you deem worthwhile back in the future. 2) Move out non-productive owners. If not now, when will you do it? We all know who these people are. The case has probably been there for a while. Cutting at the top is absolutely essential. Especially if you want the rest of your people to see you are taking serious steps to protect them. “Now is not the time for an elaborate plan and budget. It is the time instead for a lot of timely action. Talk to all clients and potential clients to learn what they are doing and how you can help them with their challenges right now.” 3) Attack in all marketing fronts. Now is not the time for an elaborate plan and budget. It is the time instead for a lot of timely action. Talk to all clients and potential clients to learn what they are doing and how you can help them with their challenges right now. Put your brand-building marketing activities through social on hold and instead focus on timely and helpful information that shows you are plugged into what is happening now and have ideas that can help your clients.

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Work From Home & Online Learning Opportunities



LEVERAGING YOUR ERP SYSTEM FOR EFFECTIVE VIRTUAL WORK - WEBINAR FREE OVERVIEW: Join this session to learn how to leverage your Deltek Vision and Vantage- point ERP systems to better perform in today’s ever-changing environment. You will see a live presentation on how to utilize Electronic Invoicing (EI) to better manage your invoicing process. You will also hear first-hand from Dawn Dostie of TRC on how EI has helped achieve their goals, whether working in the office or virtually. THIS WEBINAR WILL AIR ON MAY 14, 2020 AT 12 PM CST. LEARN MORE HERDING THE DOLLARS: CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT FOR AEC FIRMS - WEBINAR FREE OVERVIEW: The conversion of projects into cash – and every step from the timesheet to the invoice to the bank account – is important for the survival of any business. With a median average collection period of 70 days, AEC firms may not be able to control every aspect of the collection process, but there are steps that each firm can take to more effectively manage working capital. In this hour-long webinar, we will review Zweig Group’s data and discuss what the data tells us works for AEC firms and we will discuss specific cash flow tips to improve the collection process and control disburse- ments. THIS WEBINAR WILL AIR ON JUNE 9, 2020 AT 12 PM CST. LEARN MORE



OVERVIEW: With the uncertainty of traveling to In-Person events, Zweig Group has created a NEW virtual seminar program. This is a 6 week program of 2 hours each week of a live zoom meeting with our seminar instructors. These meetings will be a mix of presentations as well as open ended Q&A sessions. This will be the same great content that is taught during our in-person The Principals Academy seminar that has trained over 800 attendees in the last 5 years. This program will have a limit of 30 par- ticipants so each participant will have time to ask questions and get the same cohort feel as an in-person seminar does. THIS VIRTUAL SEMINAR WILL BEGIN ON JUNE 17, 2020 AT 10 AM CST


Zweig Group is an approved provider by the AIA & SHRM




Approachable leadership: Mark Sweet President of Shield Environmental Associates (Lexington, KY), a full-service engineering and environmental consulting firm that seeks solutions of distinct value.


S weet has accrued more than 30 years of experience in the consulting field, with 30 years of extensive experience working with contaminated sites. He has performed many environmental assessments and prepared numerous remedial action plans on a variety of sites for private and corporate clients, including several major oil companies. “When I became majority stockholder in 2019, I did not accept a CEO title, instead preferring to hold only the title of president,” Sweet says. “My number one job responsibility is to ensure company sustainability.” A CONVERSATION WITH MARK SWEET. The Zweig Letter: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? Mark Sweet: We were able to quickly arrange for all employees who typically perform project work in the office to begin working remotely in less than a week. Some employees with families have worked less efficiently

than others, but access to the company’s server via a VPN connection allowed work to proceed with minimum interruption. We restricted office access to a minimum number of employees, but allowed flexible time for those employees with less remote-access skills to have access to the office when office time is needed. TZL: In addition to being managing principal, you also manage four PMs from the UST program. What is the UST program? MS: The UST program is the group of petroleum underground storage tank site investigation and remediation projects managed under contract by Shield. My 30-year background includes management of this type of work, and these types of projects continue to constitute a considerable portion of Shield’s revenues. Due to the large number of UST projects in multiple states, it’s necessary to have multiple managers. Since I have historically been the primary contact for the UST clients, I remain the primary manager, although those



TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? MS: I am a good administrator and, given my background of “rising through the ranks,” I have the respect of staff that some of my managers do not. I am a “lumper” rather than a “splitter.” I recognize the skill set that both of these broad personality types offer. I feel that I am an approachable leader who has the best interests of both company interests and staff interests in mind. At times, I have allowed myself to be less assertive, but have seen positive gains for the company when I am more assertive. I have managed to be more assertive by instituting manager accountability systems rather than dealing one-on-one with multiple staff persons. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? MS: We struggle with this. Having “inherited” the group of employees that developed work habits under my predecessor’s lax accountability structure, it has been difficult to change the managers’ work habits. I have increased the frequency of manager meetings and have emphasized the interpersonal skills that I feel each manager needs to succeed with their teams. However, I have no “great” people managers. We manage to succeed by keeping groupings small; this is simply a necessary strategy for me given current staff and their historical freedom in managing their work. TZL: Does your firm work closely with any higher education institutions to gain access to the latest technology, experience, and innovation and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? MS: No, we do not. I personally sit on an advisory council to my alma mater’s science department, and regularly interact with higher education institutions via a professional organization I have been a member of for many years in order to stay connected, but these efforts are essentially advisory at this time. I have made these efforts in order to allow for pursing the experience and/or recruiting in the future, but time does not allow for expansion on this at present. With no other managers seemingly interested in outside interaction, we are limited in what benefit we can gain from such contact. TZL: How has COVID-19 affected your business on a daily basis? See APPROACHABLE LEADERSHIP, page 8

duties now mostly consist of guidance to managers, some client communications, and marketing. TZL: How far into the future are you able to reliably predict your workload and cashflow? MS: About 18 months. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” MS: I reduced my target billing utilization from 60 percent to 30 percent in early 2019, although it has been difficult to extract myself from historic involvement in project work. I am currently spending approximately 50 percent to 70 percent of my time “on the business.” “Shield is a very family-oriented company, and considerations have been given to both owners and staff to accommodate family concerns.” TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? MS: I have a son who works for the company and he has assumed primary management of the projects I have historically brought to the company. Shield is a very family-oriented company, and considerations have been given to both owners and staff to accommodate family concerns – at times to the extent that it could be viewed as detrimental to profits. TZL: What measures are you taking to protect your employees during the COVID-19 crisis? MS: Social distancing, daily disinfection of the office and all field vehicles, providing hand sanitizer and latex gloves, restrictions on field work, limiting vehicle occupancy to one person per vehicle, and mandatory use of masks when working outside of offices with doors. Masks must also be worn in the field. TZL: Since you’ve been managing principal, what has been a top challenge? MS: Motivating managers to hold staff accountable for meeting utilization goals and training staff to learn the marketing skills necessary for succession to sustain future work.





❚ ❚ Lexington, KY

❚ ❚ Louisville, KY 40243


❚ ❚ Air permitting

❚ ❚ Drilling

❚ ❚ Re-development

❚ ❚ Due diligence

❚ ❚ Emergency response

❚ ❚ Hazardous waste


❚ ❚ Industrial compliance

❚ ❚ Remediation engineering

❚ ❚ Site assessment

❚ ❚ Stormwater management

❚ ❚ Tank management

❚ ❚ Wastewater treatment

MISSION: Strive for respect,

honor and discipline; seek

solutions of distinct value; and

serve clients and community.

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

AY 11, 2020, ISSUE 1344



TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? MS: Breakdown in communication. I have explored various strategies in an effort to motivate managers, and some have failed, causing me to take a different approach to re-establish trust and rapport, which takes time and is difficult to re-establish. TZL: How many years of experience – or large enough book of business – is enough to become a principal in your firm? Are you naming principals in their 20s or 30s? MS: We have one principal in her 40s, and all others are 50-60+. The current principal group would be reluctant to welcome a new principal unless it was a forced move. TZL: Are you seeking some kind of financial assistance during the COVID-19 crisis? If so, what type? MS: Yes, we have applied to the government Payroll Protection Plan program. TZL: Shield’s history goes back to 1983. How has the company’s mission changed over the years – if at all? MS: The mission is essentially the same – to sustain the company’s revenues and remain profitable. We have not expanded or contracted in size over the past several years, so the makeup of the company is essentially the same as it has been for several years. Also, we have had very little staff turnover. Although these are positives, I recognize the need to motivate staff for the inevitable adjustments that will need to be made as the senior staff ages. With regards to company ownerships, the primary change has been to include a small number of staff as non-voting stockholders, and an increase in communications with the next age demographic of company owners to recognize and consider the changes that will be necessary (both marketing and staff development) to sustain future revenues. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO? MS: When I became majority stockholder in 2019, I did not accept a CEO title, instead preferring to hold only the title of president. My number one job responsibility is to ensure company sustainability.

MS: It has, to some degree. Available work has proceeded as normally as possible, considering that many of our clients also have restrictions in place that we must adapt to. Work has greatly slowed down in one of the company’s three primary sectors of work, which has resulted in some employees having much less work to do. Another sector has continued to work on project backlog, and our third sector has seen steady work primarily due to an uptick in regulatory inspections. TZL: How do you handle a long-term principal who is resting on his or her laurels? What effect does a low- performing, entitled principal or department head have on firm morale? MS: This has been an issue for us. Some high performing, but lesser paid and lower-level management staff, are very critical of what they see as certain principals (particularly the company’s former president/CEO) being unmotivated and a drain on the company at the expense of what certain staff sees as stronger effort by these same, lesser paid and lower-level management staff. At times it has greatly affected morale. As the more approachable manager, I spend a disproportionate amount of time (and mental energy) to counter this. “We were able to quickly arrange for all employees who typically perform project work in the office to begin working remotely in less than a week.” TZL: How often do you valuate your firm and what key metrics do you use in the process? Do you valuate using in-house staff or is it outsourced? MS: My predecessor had no accountability metrics at all. In 2017, I began requiring project managers to forecast revenues. In 2018, I began assessing company revenue streams by assessing revenues (not profits) using a simple sector concept (i.e., revenue by client type). In 2019, I modified the sector concept and developed a principal/ manager revenue/utilization/profitability metric that will be instituted and evaluated quarterly in 2020. We evaluate totals revenue and profitability on a monthly basis.

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Leadership in action

Communication, decentralized decision-making, and rapid assessment and implementation are key, in both disaster response and your business.

I was sitting across from a former platoon sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps Special Forces. Now, Elmer Roman is Secretary of State of Puerto Rico. He was 40-something, wearing a rain jacket and fit, but I could see fatigue in his face. After all, he oversaw the overall response for the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that hit the island on January 7. The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks damaged almost 10 percent of building stock, cut power to two-thirds of the island, destroyed key roadways, and made more than 8,000 people homeless.

Kit Miyamoto

It was Puerto Rico’s first earthquake in more than a century, but just two years ago, the commonwealth endured Category 5 Hurricane Maria that killed more than 3,000 people. The government response to the hurricane disaster was slow at best. The U.S. Congress allocated billions of dollars, but only a fraction was distributed. Citizens took to the street and mass demonstrations forced the governor to resign. Subsequently, a new cabinet was formed, including Mr. Roman who had just returned from some 20 years of service in the Marines.

and after their failure to act after the Maria disaster, I totally understood their frustration. The media’s attention was also largely focused on daily demonstrations and unrest. When our team arrived on the island a few days after the earthquake, the public was panicked. After all, earthquake damages are completely different from hurricane damages. With hurricanes, there is a warning, a beginning, and an end , but not with earthquakes. Aftershocks can last weeks. Anyone can see when a hurricane blows off a roof, or water causes damage, but earthquake cracks are

See KIT MIYAMOTO, page 10

Citizens’ distrust of the government was intense,



BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES CONSTRUCTION IS COMPLETE ON NEW TRAVEL PLAZA AT ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Ware Malcomb , an award-winning international design firm, announced construction is complete on a new travel plaza developed by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority at the Orlando International Airport in Florida. Ware Malcomb’s Miami office provided architecture and interior design services for the project. Located at the northeast corner of Jeff Fuqua Boulevard and South Park Place next to Terminal C at the Orlando International Airport, the new 9,000-square-foot travel plaza includes a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station, as well as a food court containing Baja Fresh and Built Burger restaurants. The exterior design features a steel and glass canopy in the front of the building that emulates an airport terminal, while both sides of the building curve up at an angle to mimic

airplane wings. The plaza’s exterior design also includes a canopy over the gas station. In addition, Ware Malcomb provided interior architecture and design for the food court, restaurants, convenience store, and gas station. A large flight board is incorporated into the food court for the convenience of travelers. The new travel plaza is directly connected to an existing cell phone lot designed for drivers picking up travelers from the airport. The site of the new facility was previously undeveloped, requiring significant engineering work to de-water and clear the swampy area and prepare the site for construction. The team collaborated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure all building materials met strict airport guidelines and requirements. “We worked closely with GOAA to design a comfortable, convenient, and welcoming place for travelers who are coming to and from the Orlando International Airport,” said Rei

Gomez, regional manager of Ware Malcomb’s Miami office. “This thoughtfully-designed travel plaza is an exciting new addition to the airport’s outstanding facilities.” Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is an international design firm providing planning, architecture, interior design, branding, civil engineering, and building measurement services to commercial real estate and corporate clients. With office locations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Panama, the firm specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science and technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/educational facilities, and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private company and a Hot Firm and Best Firm To Work For by Zweig Group.

KIT MIYAMOTO, from page 9

In your team, trust your offices, trust your leaders, trust your staff, and have them decide and act. Unless your vision is to stay as a one-man show or five-man organization, this principle always applies. Have your team come up with the implementation plan and trust their direction but monitor it carefully and adjust as you go. “When our team arrived on the island a few days after the earthquake, the public was panicked. After all, earthquake damages are completely different from hurricane damages. With hurricanes, there is a warning, a beginning and an end , but not with earthquakes. Aftershocks can last weeks.” 4)Public communication is key. Mr. Roman attends daily press conferences to inform the public and take tough questions from media. People need to know what is happening on a daily basis. Especially when public distrust is so high. He didn’t shy away from media. In your team, external and internal communication is critical. It’s more than marketing. Communication can shape the reality you operate in and you need to take control of this. Your organization’s success relies on it. I am sure some people may disagree with me about the status of the government’s responses to this earthquake. But without political biases, if you measure against recent disasters and how others reacted to it, I do feel the government and people of Puerto Rico did very well in the first eight weeks. They have incredible challenges ahead for recovery and reconstruction, but I feel Puerto Rico will succeed because of their perseverance and passion for their country. KIT MIYAMOTO, Ph.D., S.E., is global CEO of Miyamoto International. Contact him at

mysterious, even for engineers. Thousands of people fled their homes, cities, and even the island. I returned to Puerto Rico again eight weeks after disaster response began and saw substantial progress. Eighty percent of affected homes had been assessed. All major roads were restored. One-hundred percent of power was back. Displacement camps were reduced to less than 600 people. What did Mr. Roman and his team do to make this happen? 1)Do not pretend you know it all. Get experts and get answers fast. Within a few days, they realized this disaster was different. They brought in earthquake response and damage assessment experts from California, New York, and around Puerto Rico and tasked them with setting up a rapid damage assessment system and training. As a leader, your job is to attract someone better than you. In your team, the same thing applies. Make sure to attract people who are faster, more knowledgeable, and smarter. Better technical specialists, managers, and experts. Your job is to make their jobs easier – then, anything can happen. 2)Set major strategic direction and move fast. Mr. Roman understood the importance of rapid assessment and the opening of key infrastructure as key strategies. His team set a general direction and let their experts do what they can do well. He knew how to move away when needed, and support when required. In your team, vision setting and strategic direction is so critical. Without a strategy and associated action, no team or organization can move or they waste a lot of effort. Just being busy is not good enough and can be fatal. Show the team direction and how to get there – in the most efficient way. 3)Decentralizing in decision making. Mr. Roman recognized the importance of municipalities taking responsibility. Mayors need to make the final decisions for their cities and people. There is no way that a centralized government can make decisions for such widespread areas and specific needs. He understood that trust is essential.

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Most of these ideas take very little money – just your time. Invest in yourself and your business and you’ll be stronger and better for it on the other side of this. What you can do with extra time

I n today’s current business situation, there are lots of changes happening. Fortunately, our industry is considered essential and work is currently continuing, at least from a construction standpoint. I know architects aren’t seeing clients move forward with projects that were slated to move forward in 2020. Although the situation is changing day by day (hour by hour, even!), our industry remains cautiously optimistic.

Lindsay Young

Now that you likely have a little more time on your hands, there are some things you can do for your business that won’t cost you much money. There’s no better opportunity to get these knocked out than in the upcoming weeks. 1)Update your company handbook. Many companies have handbooks that were written years ago and haven’t been touched since. Keeping your employee handbook updated is important for retaining and recruiting talent. Review your handbook to make sure it includes your latest benefit package and company guidelines. Social media guidelines should be included in your company handbook, too. Employees need to be informed of what the policies are and what they will

be moving forward. It’s a good time to write about a working from home/telecommunicating policy. You’ll want to include security and IT information in the handbook, too. Take a few hours to review it with your team. 2)Update marketing materials. Has it been awhile since you’ve updated firm information, employee bios, and boilerplate content? Now is the time to revisit it. This would also include your content on your website. Updating information and rewriting content to tell stories helps to communicate your company message more effectively. If you aren’t familiar with Story Brand by Donald Miller, check it

See LINDSAY YOUNG, page 12



ON THE MOVE WOMEN EMPLOYEES AT LACO FORGE AHEAD WITH PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS Geology Department Manager Christine Manhart has assumed the added responsibilities of company principal, leading a list of recent achievements announced by LACO Associates President Mike Nelson. Manhart became an owner in 2019 and recently earned certification as a hydrogeologist. To gain licensure, hydrogeology candidates must complete three years of related services and pass a rigorous certification exam. “As the state of California has made groundwater a higher priority, having a Hydrogeologist on staff is important to LACO’s mission of serving our communities,” Nelson said. “We’re fortunate to have Christine Manhart on staff, both in this role and as a principal.” “The ever-increasing reliance on groundwater as a resource requires the input of hydrogeologists to help ensure the public always has access to a safe and secure drinking water supply,” Manhart said. “I want to help people use this resource in a way that is compatible with its availability and competing uses.” Manhart’s accomplishment, along with those of her female peers, is one the firm considers a valuable step forward in recognizing women in the industry. Following industry advisor, Zweig Group’s recent launch of the Elevate the Industry and ElevateHer movements, LACO has stepped up to take on the challenge to embrace, promote, and fortify the path for equal opportunities.

“I think this is what ElevateHer is about. Recognizing achievements, shining the spotlight – it’s so deserved. We’re helping elevate the industry by elevating her – otherwise the industry never will,” said Marketing Designer Jessica Carenco. Other recent accomplishments by LACO women include: ❚ ❚ Vanessa Davis, Eureka office, has earned professional geologist status. Davis recently passed the Practice of Geology and California Specific examinations, earning her full licensure from the Association of State Boards of Geology. Vanessa has been with LACO since 2016. ❚ ❚ Kelsey McLaughlin, Ukiah office, has passed the ASBOG Professional Geologist examination. She can achieve full licensure by passing the California Specific examination in the fall. LACO Associates is a multidisciplinary engineering consulting firm with offices in Eureka, Ukiah, Santa Rosa, Chico, and Fort Bragg. LACO provides integrated solutions for development, infrastructure, and geo- environmental projects to advance the quality of life for generations to come. DMW HIRES NEW VICE PRESIDENT, PAUL CAVANAUGH During 2020, Daft-McCune- Walker, Inc. will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in the land development industry. To kick-off the 50th year, DMW announced Paul Cavanaugh joined the company as the newest member of the DMW leadership team. “Paul is an outstanding addition to DMW and brings a wealth of experience and expertise

to our company. We are more than thrilled to have him be a part of our team,” said President Lisa Gobrecht. Cavanaugh brings unique strategic and operational experience in civil engineering, land development, and construction including strong understanding of governmental regulations and protocols from his previous experiences as owner, client representative, and consultant. “I am delighted to be a part of DMW leadership where I can contribute to a company known for their long history and outstanding reputation,” says Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh has a reputation for building strong production and engineering teams. He is known for his ability to inspire and mentor new staff. “This philosophy and approach are aligned perfectly with our culture and values at DMW,” says Gobrecht. The last 50 years have been incredible journey. Throughout the year, DMW will be featuring a distinct anniversary logo, flashbacks to notable projects, and a celebration to say thank you to those who helped DMW grow. DMW strives to continue to be a trusted partner for clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and prove time and again the firm’s knowledge and expertise take projects from concepts to successful completion. Headquartered in Baltimore, DMW offers superior service, proven technical capabilities, extensive experience, valuable connections, innovative solutions, and a promise to exceed client expectations.

LINDSAY YOUNG, from page 11

be). It’s good to really look closely at your business and where you want it to go. Take time to brainstorm and write things down. When everything is stuck in your head, it’s hard to organize it. If you write it down, you can analyze and reflect more clearly. 5)Call your clients. Now is a great time to reach out to current and past clients. Check in and see how they are doing and what’s going on in their business. Find out if there is anything you can to do help. Your clients are experiencing and feeling many of the same things you are, so maintaining that connection strengthens your relationship with your clients. Lead with empathy when you talk to them. Give them grace and be kind. Seems pretty simple, but those three things go a long way with others. Business will be much different when we all get through the next couple months. I wish I could tell you what that looks like, but I can’t. I don’t think anyone can. Take this extra time to invest in yourself and your business. Most of the things I’ve discussed above take very little money. Just your time. You’ll be stronger and better for it on the other side of this. LINDSAY YOUNG is president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at

out. It’s a great read and talks about how you can tailor your marketing message to your clients through your marketing collateral. 3)Read. Personal development is important regardless of what’s going on in the world. Making yourself a better leader, manager, architect, engineer, or contractor helps you in all aspects of your life – professional and personal. It’s always a good time to read those books that have been sitting on your shelf or on your Audible wish list. Be a lifelong learner! “Although the situation is changing day by day (hour by hour, even!), our industry remains cautiously optimistic.” 4)Reflect. This one is hard even for me. Take time to reflect on your business. Analyze what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Look at your business goals and see how they’re going to change in the next six or 12 months, because more than likely they are going to change. No one knows what’s going to happen in the foreseeable future, but we must be as prepared as we can with the “new” normal (whatever that may

© Copyright 2020. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


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